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Christmas tree vs Japanese Kadomatsu displayed during New Year holidays

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In Japan many people display Christmas trees in December although the vast majority of people are Buddhists. Soon after Christmas, they are going to have the biggest holiday which is New Year Holiday. Most companies are closed from December 29th through January 3rd that is Year End and New Year Holidays. As soon as Christmas is over, they begin to set up another type of decoration called “Kadomatsu”.

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Although this traditional customs are getting deteriorated due to the heavy influence of American culture, many people are still following the customs of displaying what is called “Kadomatsu”. This is placed in front of a residential house and also office building etc. Kadomatsu is made of bamboo and pine trees/pine needles. Some of them have additional ornaments as well.

This particular decoration is something like Japanese version “Christmas Tree” although it is displayed in January. When the end of a year is getting close, people begin to prepare Kadomatsu.

According to Wikipedia, Kadomatsu is described as follows:

A kadomatsu (literally "gate pine") is a traditional Japanese decoration of the New Year placed in pairs in front of homes to welcome ancestral spirits or kami of the harvest. They are placed after Christmas until January 7 (or January 15 during the Edo period) and are considered temporary housing (shintai) for kami. Designs for kadomatsu vary depending on region but are typically made of pine, bamboo, and sometimes ume tree sprigs which represent longevity, prosperity and steadfastness, respectively. "The fundamental function of the New Year ceremonies is to honor and receive the toshigami (deity), who will then bring a bountiful harvest for farmers and bestow the ancestors' blessing on everyone." After January 15 (or in many instances the 19th) the kadomatsu is burned to appease the kami or toshigami and release them.

In both USA and Japan, evergreen materials are used for the decoration of winter holidays. Namely not only for Christmas trees but also for Kadomatsu in Japan, pine trees are used. In a sense Kadomatsu has been taking an important role as a leading decoration for celebrating New Year Holidays just like Christmas trees have been decorating winter holiday season in the States.

As mentioned above, They make a big deal for enjoying both Christmas and New Year Holiday in Japan. Children are happy with not only Christmas gift but also New Year Gift called “Otoshidama” that is usually cash given by their parents. In a sense Japan is a strange country because they celebrate Christmas (for Christians) and also New Year Holiday based on traditional Shinto religion.

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